Kia’s mid-size sedan will likely trade its current Optima nameplate for the K5 designation as part of its 2021 model year redesign, according to fuel economy figures released by the Environmental Protection Agency for the “2021 Kia K5.”
We long-suspected the fifth-generation model of Kia’s family sedan would embrace the K5 name, going so far as to acknowledge the possibility in our first-drive review of the model in South Korea. Recall that in its home market, the Optima already goes by the name K5, and the larger K9 goes by the name K900 in the United States. Of course, there’s always the (unlikely) possibility the brand’s sedan maintains the Optima name in North America, and the K5 moniker instead dons an entirely different vehicle—such as a crossover—on our shores. Nevertheless, we’ve reached out to Kia for comment on the matter.
As of this writing, Kia’s registered only one K5 powertrain with the EPA: An all-wheel-drive variant that powers its four wheels by way of a turbocharged 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine that mates to an eight-speed automatic transmission. Rated at 26 miles per gallon in the city, 34 mpg on the highway, and 29 mpg combined, the K5 all-wheel-drive sees its fuel economy figures fall by one, three, and two mpg, respectively, to its front-wheel-drive 2020 Kia Optima counterpart and its available turbocharged 1.6-liter inline-four and seven-speed self-shifting gearbox.
In South Korea, the K5’s 1.6-liter engine produces 178 horses—equal to that of the current Optima’s. We doubt the all-wheel-drive K5’s powertrain, likely heavier, will allow it to better the 7.5-second trot to 60 miles per hour we recorded from a 2016 Kia Optima, however, we are confident the new Kia sedan will offer reasonably peppy performance. In fact, we called the K5’s 1.6-liter four and eight-speed automatic “a powerful little combo” in our initial review of the new model. That said, we still expect Kia to satiate those in search of more power by offering the U.S.-spec K5 with a turbocharged 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine that makes around 290 hp, as well.
Whether the 2021 Kia K5 is the new name of the brand’s mid-size sedan or a new model entirely, the car’s combination of all-wheel drive, reasonable fuel efficiency, and a turbocharged four-cylinder engine certainly piques our interest. Hopefully, we’ll learn more about the model—and its official name—in the near future.
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